Born in a barn in 1909, Leo Fender seems an unlikely father of rock ’n’ roll. But as the man whose company perfected the solid-body electric guitar, his contribution to contemporary music cannot be overstated. Just take a look at the albums whose musicians thought enough of their Fender guitar to put it on the cover: Eric Clapton’s "Layla," Bruce Springsteen’s "Born To Run," Jeff Beck’s "Wired," The Pretenders’s (Chrissie Hynde) "Get Close," Bonnie Raitt’s "Nick of Time." The list of influential artists who play a Fender is just about endless.

Fender’s first solid-body electric guitar was introduced in 1950. It debuted as the one-pickup Esquire before the name of the two-pickup model was changed to Broadcaster. But Gretsch was already using the name Broadkaster on some of its instruments, so the name was changed again.

Between names, the company made the most of its remaining Fender Broadcaster decals by cutting off the word Broadcaster so that only the Fender brand made it onto the guitar’s headstock. Today, collectors call these guitars Nocasters. Only about 60 Nocasters were made, which makes them extremely collectible, but by April of 1951 the guitar would finally get a name that would stick, the Telecaster.

The Stratocaster came next in 1954. Unlike the Telecaster, whose ash body was outlined with rib-digging 45-degree edges, the Strat had a sculpted body that fit players like a glove. Three pickups gave the instrument unprecedented tonal range, as did a vibrato bar that would bend the guitar’s strings when pressed. And instead of the Telecaster’s blond, natural-wood finish, the Strat was offered in a number of colors, including the iconic sunburst (golden-yellow in the middle fading to black on the outside).

Solid-body electric bass guitars were also a Fender innovation. The Precision bass was introduced in 1951. It had a headstock that was virtually identical to that of the Telecaster and a body that turned out to be a preview of the 1954 Strat. By 1957, the Precision’s headstock had been redesigned to mirror the Stratocaster’s, and that version of the bass remains largely unchanged today. The Jazz Bass was added to the low-octave lineup in 1960, and a six-string bass was offered in 1961.

Fender launched two other major guitar lines in the 1950s. The first of these was a pair of low-cost models, the Duo-Sonic and the Musicmaster, both of which were introduced in 1956. These guitars were for kids who wanted to learn how to play without having to shell out the big bucks for a Stratocaster ($274.50 for a Strat versus $119.50 for a Musicmaster). The other initiative was a high-end guitar called the Jazzmaster, which retailed at the time for $329.50. It had a rosewood fingerboard on the standard maple neck, and switches that let the guitarist bounce between rhythm and lead sounds.

In 1962, Fender introduced the Jaguar, which combined a Jazzmaster body with a Stratocaster head. The Mustang, an update of the Duo-Sonic, was added in 1964. Years later, Nirvana...

But the 1960s are best known as the decade when Jimi Hendrix did things to his Stratocaster that nobody had thought possible, from setting it on fire to playing wailing, psychedelic versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Alas for Fender, it was also the decade that the company was sold to CBS—for Fender purists, the years 1965 to 1985 are like a 20-year musical drought.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Guitars Info

Vintage Guitars Info

This great reference site features detailed sections on vintage guitar makers, including Gibson, Fender, Martin, Gr… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Want to see all the old brochures and ads for your favorite vintage axe? Check out this great site, which showcases… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Fender Princeton Tube Amp Blackface Circa 1970Vintage Fender Bassman Tube Amplifier Head & Cabinet 60's Brown As Is1965 Fender Stratocaster Vintage Nitro Electric Guitar Neck Strat 1964 4 Body 651962 Fender Stratocaster Neck. Vintage, Pre Cbs Slab Board.1980 Fender Stratocaster Vintage Electric Guitar Usa W/kahler Bridge 1970 Fender Precision Bass Vintage American P BassFender Japan Jazzmaster Jm66 3ts !!1965 Fender Stratocaster Vintage Electric Guitar Body Strat 1964 1963 4 Neck 63Sonic Blue Fender Thin Skin Avri 62 Jazzmaster1961 Fender Deluxe Brown Face Tubed Guitar AmpFender 8 String Pedal Steel Electric Guitar Vintage 1950's Rare Fender Stratocaster Body 1965 Excellent No Reserve1966 Fender Stratocaster Vintage Pickups Pots Strat Assembly 1966 Pre Cbs SetRelic Fender Robert Cray Olympic White 62 Ri Strat Stratocaster Hardtail Body1986 Fender Japan Telecaster E-serial !!1987 Fender Stratocaster Strat Plus Lake Placid Blue Very Low SerialFender Classic Player Jazzmaster2008 Fender American Deluxe Telecaster Usa Made W/hard Case1950s/1960s Fender Strat Bridge Vintage Electric Guitar Stratocaster SaddlesFender Squier Fsr Classic Vibe Telecaster Tele Custom Olympic White W/ Gigbag1977 Fender Musicmaster Bass Tube Amplifier Silverface 12 Watt Vintage Amp 70'sFender Stratocaster 1959 Maple Neck With Tuners And PlateFender Stratocaster Strat Kahler Trem Mij Spyder Electric Guitar 1988 Japan Vintage Fender Princeton 1962 Brown Tolex 6g2 Serial No. P04394Fender Precision Electric Bass Guitar Maple Neck Cream/gold Pickgaurd & HardcaseFender Duo-sonic 1993-1994 Mim ** With Soft Case**1972 Fender Vibrolux ReverbOld Vintage Usa Made Fender Musicmaster Bass Guitar 1970s Fender American Standard Jazz Bass 2000 - Sunburst - Usa - Excellent2009 Usa American Fender Vg Roland Modeling Stratocaster; Black With Maple NeckModified Fender Blues Junior 15 Watt Guitar Amplifier2008 Fender American Standard Stratocaster Electric Guitar Sienna Sunburst HssVintage 1961 Fender Precision P-bass P Electric Bass Guitar Olympic White FinishVtg Leslie 16 / Fender Vibratone Rotating Speaker Cabinet + Footswitch 1960s1964 Fender Stratocaster Strat Vintage Electric Telecaster Esquire Guitar CaseFender Princeton Reverb Guitar AmpFender Vibro Champ Silverface Classic! Needs Some Work, See Description2013 Fender Modern Player Jazzmaster With Gibson Pafs1974 Fender Precision Bass (excellent Near Mint Condition),4 String,right HandedVintage Fender Bassman AmpFender Japan Telecaster Antigua Near Mint Rare !!Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar - Ltd Ed Made In Usa + Hard Case (lot 3941)Fender Blues Junior Lacquered Tweed Limited Edition 15 Watt Guitar AmpBeautiful Fender Strat Stratocaster Standard Body With Bridge Mim ****Fender American Deluxe Ash Strat - Tobacco Sunburst Electricguitar Usa Strat NrFender Telecaster Made In JapanFender American Deluxe Precision Bass-rare Sunburst/mother Of Pearl 4 StringMinty 1982 Fullerton Fender Usa Tele Telecaster Bullet Thin Oval V Neck 1970s2001 Usa Fender American Standard Stratocaster Strat Maple Neck W Tuners1994 Fender Japan Foto Flame Photo Flame Tele Telecaster Guitar & Case L@@kVintage 1967-1968 Fender Natural Wood Electric Guitar, Serial #1683321951 Fender Champion '600', Needs Restoration, Or Can Be Used For PartsFender 1973 Usa Vintage Strat,stratocaster Sunburst Guitar Body,nat Heavy RelicVintage Fender Bullet Bass Deluxe Sunburst Maple Neck 1980 Usa -- ! No Reserve !Fender Standard Telecaster Electric Guitar MimGene Baker Set Neck Stratocaster Strat From Fender Custom ShopFender Blues Junior 15 Watt Guitar Amp - Excellent Condition With Upgrades!1961 Fender Precision Bass, Vintage P Bass Sounds Amazing! 1984 Vintage Fender Stratocaster Elite Original Case, Tags And LiteratureFender Hot Rod Deville 212 Guitar Amp

Recent News: Fender Guitars

Source: Google News

Dave Stewart and Friends- The Roxy Theatre, Hollywood, CA 12/8/14 (SHOW ...
Glide Magazine, December 16th

The evening began with an opening set, by 16 year old Hollie Stephenson. Stewart is managing the young English ... His collection included a Fender Stratocaster, a Dusenberg, and an acoustic Takamine among others. Several songs into the set, Stewart ...Read more

The ToneWoodAmp Blows Amplified Sound Out Of Your Guitar's Sound Hole
TechCrunch, December 15th

SHRED MAETERXXXTOTHEMAXXX I'm actually curious how this sounds and how it works outdoors. Who knows, the next busker you meet may be able to truly SHRED a little Stairway next to the Cold Stone using electronic effects and an old Fender...Read more

All Good Cretins Go to Heaven: Dee Dee Ramones Twisted Punk Paintings
Daily Beast, December 15th

John Cafiero, curator of the Dee Dee Ramone Exhibition at the Hotel Chelsea Storefront Gallery, tells me the story as we stand in front of a wall of vintage Ramones photographs. It's hard ... the largest-ever collection of his paintings is on display...Read more

Conor Oberst References Police, Ryan Adams Tussles with Crowd at KCSN ...
Hollywood Reporter, December 13th

The band, which featured Upside Down Mountain's producer Jonathan Wilson on guitar, concluded with a rollicking cover of John Prine's “Pretty Good,” during which Oberst fully let loose, running around stage and leaning on Wilson's back in guitar...Read more

Risen Legacy Review
Premier Guitar, December 12th

Those old non-master volume amps were more than just loud—they were unruly, even brutish, and their wide sound and organic feel are nearly impossible to replicate without such immense power. Instead of attempting to approximate those tones in a ...Read more

Old '97s set Wayback Machine to 1994 at Sam's
mySanAntonio.com, December 11th

And they included everything -- even "Ken's Polka Thing," a weird 30-second instrumental that did in fact feature guitarist Ken Bethea switching from his Fender Telecaster to a shiny, red-and-white, piano-key accordion. Let's put it this way -- Flaco...Read more

Guitar Trader's swan song: $500K or bust
U-T San Diego, December 10th

Guitar Trader, a longstanding pillar of the San Diego music scene, will close shop on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in January if it doesn't receive $500,000 within the next few weeks, says its owner. Eric Denton posted a plea for help on the company...Read more

Ramones Signature Bass Guitar
Sonic State, December 9th

Features include an Olympic White gloss finish, maple neck with "C"-shaped profile and vintage-style heel truss-rod adjustment, 9.5"-radius maple fingerboard with 20 vintage-style frets, split single-coil pickup, three-ply black pickguard and vintage...Read more